Crespo clinches three-point haul as PAOK push on
A 57th-minute Jose Crespo header was enough to seal another three points for PAOK against Atromitos as the Double-headed Eagle continue to press on in the battle for the leadership of the Super League Interwetten.
Amid a packed fixture schedule with a game every three days, it’s a question of team management. On the one hand, the physical side, while on the other, the mental aspects. PAOK had it all on Sunday (13.02) at the Toumba.
The home side completely dominated proceedings, not allowing the opposition to have any goal threat. And even if PAOK were not as effective as they would have liked in front of the visitors’ goal, they kept a calm and clear head to get a professional victory which moved them closer to Olympiacos who were kicking off later against AEK.
In the first half of the match both teams were in the mood and the tempo was excellent, albeit without any remarkable goalscoring opportunities. Atromitos had their first big moment – and the only one of the whole game as it turned out – through Rotariu’s header, but Paschalakis saved it comfortably.
For the rest of the first half it was one-way traffic with PAOK pinning Atromitos back in their own half for long spells. The shots came thick and fast, with the hosts missing two great opportunities through Mitrita and Douglas. The Romanian saw his attempt blocked, and the Brazilian failed to hit the target from an advantageous position.
The image of the match did not change in the second half. PAOK again enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, pressed, passed the ball around very well, and missed some good opportunities, before the crucial moment came in the 57th minute that essentially decided the outcome of the match.
It was a Spanish collaboration between Sastre and Crespo that did the damage, with a cross by the former headed in brilliantly by the latter, making it 1-0 to PAOK.
Carrying the momentum from the goal with them, Lucescu’s players tried to extend their lead, but Gianniotis was there when needed and the Atromitos ‘keeper stopped two impressive free-kicks from Mitrita and A. Zivkovic, while a goal by Biseswar was chalked off for an offensive foul.
In the last 10 minutes of the match, Atromitos tried to push forward en masse with opposing coach Chris Coleman throwing on all of his offensive weapons. BUt PAOK’s defense held firm whenever needed and kept the ball away from Paschalakis’s goal as the home side claimed all three points.
PAOK now switch their focus on the first leg of their European tie with Midtjylland in Denmark.
PAOK: Paschalakis, Sastre, Mihaj, Crespo, Vieirinha (81 ‘Sidcley), Augusto (67′ Soares), Tsingaras, Biseswar (81′ Schwab), Murg (59′ A. Zivkovic), Mitrita (81’ Jaba), Akpom.
Atromitos: Gianniotis, Daviotis (67′ Vasilantonopoulos), Mavrommatis, Chatziisaias, Tzovaras, Charisis, Salomon (67′ Eligmark), Denic (71′ Nabi), Spiridonovic (81′ Tomas), Rotariu.